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  • Writer's pictureHazel Mullins

February 2024

January and the start of opening a new calendar year can provide for many of us an opportunity as a time for change.  This can be seen through creating new year resolutions and making plans towards a better lifestyle.  For some, reflecting on the past and preparation for future growth, gives a time for introspection and setting intensions for the year ahead.  Better is a big theme in January.

However, the new year for some can be seen as a stressful event leaving us struggling.  This can be the case with people suffering with issues such as Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is a type of depression which is experienced during certain seasons or times of the year.  SAD is listed as a mood disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), and is seen to affect people who typically have normal mental health throughout most of the year, but experience depressive symptoms at the same time each year.  These depressive symptoms are often connected to the winter months however, SAD can be experienced at any time of the year.

Symptoms of SAD can include changes in sleeping patterns, with either sleeping too much or too little, having low energy levels and a lack of concentration.  These symptoms can leave people feeling anxious, irritable or angry and they may want to withdraw from social interactions, feeling a need to hibernate from the outside world.

The theory of SAD was created by Norman E Rosenthal in the 1980s, and through his own experiences of depression, theorised that the reduction of natural light during the winter months was the cause of his depression.  Since the creation of this theory, the term has become well known and recognised. It affects many people each year however, this seasonal pattern which influences a person’s mental health is little understood and clouded in misconceptions with a lack of awareness. 

Recognising the signs of SAD can aid putting measures in place to develop coping strategies help deal with these mood changes when they happen.  Family and friends may struggle to understand how you are suffering with the effects of SAD.  At Providence Counselling, we can offer you a safe and non-judgemental space for you to talk with a qualified counsellor about your struggles with SAD, to give you the opportunity to find the confidence to say how you feel.  To understand the behaviours which impact your life living with SAD and why certain things can be a real struggle for you at certain times of the year.



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